Diamond gems: A look at former FCIAC stars in the college baseball ranks

Many of the best baseball players in the FCIAC who graduated high school in recent years have pursued their passion for the sport as student-athletes in college.

Although the larger college baseball teams generally got to play through about the first third of the 2020 season before the COVID-19 pandemic halted all spring sports, plenty of those former FCIAC players got their fair share of playing time for their respective college teams.

Here is a look at those former conference players who were on the rosters of college teams in the state of Connecticut, major conferences such as the Big East, ACC and Big 10 along with other conferences in the northeast such as the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the Northeast Conference, Patriot League and Atlantic 10.

Those players with their highlights and statistics are listed below under the subheading of the high schools which they attended, with those FCIAC schools listed in alphabetical order:


Brandon Backman was a 6-foot-5, 220-pound junior right-handed pitcher for who made four appearances out of the bullpen in his first year for St. John’s University. He had a 1-0 record, struck out 12 and walked four in 7.2 innings, held his opponents a .222 batting average and had a 5.87 ERA. Last year he pitched for Monroe and was selected to the 2019 JUCO World Series All-Tournament Team after he threw a complete game to earn the win in his only appearance in the JUCO World Series.

Jason Goetz was a 5-foot-10, 198-pound senior left-handed pitcher for Iona who appeared in three games and pitched 2.1 innings with no decisions, two strikeouts, two walks and a 7.71 ERA. Over the last four years Goetz appeared in 34 games, pitched 28.2 innings, struck out 17 and had a 1-0 record with a 6.91 ERA.


Justin Jordan and Jake Frasca were the two team leaders in batting average while playing in all 13 games for Sacred Heart University, which won three of its last four games to finish 6-7.

Jordan was a 5-foot-11, 165-pound sophomore outfielder who led the Pioneers with a .316 batting average (18-for-57) and 12 runs scored, and he also stole four bases and had five RBIs. Jordan was also errorless in the field with 37 putouts.

During the 2019 seasons he played in 50 games, was second on the team with 54 hits and had a .314 batting average with 21 RBIs, 25 runs scored and 12 stolen bases. Jordan made the 2018 All-FCIAC Baseball Team and the 2016 FCIAC All-East Team.

Frasca was a 6-foot, 195-pound red-shirt senior infielder who led SHU in RBIs (12) and slugging percentage (.434) and was second on the team with his .283 batting average (15-for-53).

Frasca, who made the 2015 All-FCIAC Baseball Team, has consistently been a very good hitter throughout his career with a .316 batting average (138-for-437) in 116 games played along with 66 RBIs, 66 runs scored, 25 doubles, six home runs and a .419 slugging percentage. Last year in 2019 he batted .332 (68-for-205) with 29 RBIs, 13 doubles, three homes and a .439 slugging percentage.

Richard Brereton was a 6-foot-1, 205-pound senior with the Emory College Eagles this spring and, with an extra year of eligibility, will be transferring to Duke for the next baseball season.

Brereton played in six games this spring, batting .478 with nine RBIs and nine runs scored in 43 at-bats. As a junior, he hit .392 (56-for-143) with 30 RBIs and 28 runs scored.

On the mound, Brereton won each of his two starts as an Emory senior, allowing no earned runs in 10.1 innings pitched with three walks and 12 strikeouts.

Henry Williams was a 6-foot-5, 190-pound freshman right-handed pitcher for Duke University. Williams made one start in the shortened season on Feb. 15 during the opening weekend against Army. He pitched 0.2 innings and allowed one earned run on three walks before he was replaced due to soreness. Williams was selected to the 2018 All-FCIAC Baseball Team a year after he was on the 2017 All-East Team.

Peter Marren was a 5-foot-11, 210-pound junior infielder who started all 16 games for Bucknell University, usually as the first baseman. Marren had a .262 batting average (16-for-61) with three doubles and seven RBIs.

Casey Brown was a 6-foot-6, 250-pound junior first baseman for Fordham. He made two starts in the nine games he saw action in and had a .182 batting average (2-for-11) and a .438 on-base percentage as he drew two walks and got hit by a pitch three times. Brown made the 2017 All-FCIAC Baseball Team one year after he made the 2016 All-East Team.

Fairfield Ludlowe

Mike Randazzo was a 5-foot-10, 163-pound sophomore left-handed pitcher who appeared in two games out of the bullpen for Bryant University. He struck out two batters in 0.2 innings and had no decisions. Randazzo was selected to the 2017 FCIAC All-East Team.

Fairfield Warde

Ryan Donnelly was having a very good year as a 5-foot-10, 180-pound sophomore outfielder for the University of Bridgeport. Donnelly started in all 12 games, had a .354 batting average, he led the team with 17 hits and 12 runs scored and he also had three doubles, seven RBIs a .463 on-base percentage and a .479 slugging percentage. Donnelly was selected to the 2018 All-FCIAC Baseball Team.

Giacomo Brancato was a 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior outfielder for his hometown Fairfield Stags, who won their last game to finish 2-9. Brancato started in seven of the eight games he played and had three hits in 20 at-bats. Brancato made the 2017 FCIAC All-East Team.


Eddie McCabe was a 6-foot, 200-pound junior infielder who has had a very good career thus far for Georgetown University. He started in all 17 games this year from Feb. 14-March 11. McCabe had a .270 batting average (17-for-63), he drew 11 walks and had four doubles and five RBIs. Last year he was selected to the All-Big East First Team after a great sophomore season when he led the Hoyas in with a .345 batting average (70-for-203) and a .433 on base percentage and was second on the team with five home runs, 32 RBIs and 35 runs scored.

McCabe has started in all 128 career games he has played in and has a .314 career batting average (149-for-475) with 73 RBIs, 76 runs scored, 23 doubles, three triples, seven home runs, a .419 slugging percentage, a .403 on-base percentage, and a .919 fielding percentage. McCabe was selected to the 2017 All-FCIAC Baseball Team after he was previously named to the 2015 All-Central Team and 2016 All-East Team.


John Thrasher was a 6-foot-2, 190-pound junior outfielder for the University of Hartford. He started in all 12 games he played, got nine hits in 42 at-bats (.214 BA), had three doubles, three RBIs and no errors in the field for a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. Through the first three years of his career Thrasher has a .256 batting average (84-for-328) with 12 doubles, three home runs and 40 RBIs in 105 games played. Thrasher was selected to the 2016 All-FCIAC Baseball Team.

St. Joseph

Charlie Pagliarini was a 6-foot-2, 215-pound freshman infielder who started in 10 of 11 games for Fairfield University (2-9) and had five hits in 32 at-bats with three RBIs. Last year Pagliarini was chosen to the 2019 All-FCIAC Baseball Team.

Ben Talbot was a 6-foot, 200-pound freshman right-handed pitcher who made seven appearances in relief for Holy Cross and pitched 7.1 innings.


Jay DeVito was a 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior infielder who had a team-high .333 batting average for Central Connecticut State University. DeVito played in six games and had seven hits in 21 at-bats with one run scored and two RBIs.

He was a three-sport star at Stamford who made the FCIAC Baseball All-West Team in 2015 and ’16.

Matthew Wirz was a 6-foot, 185-pound sophomore right-handed pitcher for the University of Bridgeport. Wirz hurled 1.2 innings in two appearances, he had no decisions with a 0.00 ERA, struck out five, allowed no hits and walked two batters. He made the 2018 FCIAC Baseball All-West Team.


Chad Knight was a 6-foot, 210-pound freshman catcher for Duke University. Knight had five starts in the 11 games he played in and a .241 batting average (7-for-29) with one home run, one triple and three RBIs and he made no errors in the field. Knight made the All-FCIAC Baseball team and was named the conference’s Player of the Year in his upperclassman years of 2018 and ’19.

Matt Stone was a 6-foot-1, 195-pound sophomore backup catcher who started in one of the three games he played in for Georgetown University. He had one hit in four official at-bats and drew two walks.

Trinity Catholic

Randy Polonia was a 6-foot, 207-pound senior right-handed pitcher who had three appearances out of the bullpen for the University of Connecticut. He did not allow a hit or a run while pitching 2.1 innings and struck out five.

Multiple injuries caused Polonia to miss the 2017 and 2018 seasons. He returned for the 2019 season and had a 1-1 record with 10 strikeouts in 9.2 innings. Polonia had a superb career for Trinity Catholic, having been selected to the All-FCIAC Baseball First Team three consecutive years (2013-15) and the FCIAC Player of the Year in 2014 and ’15.


Tony Socci was a 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior outfielder/first baseman who appeared in 12 games and started eight in the outfield for Fairleigh Dickinson. He batted .286 with two home runs, three doubles and six RBI’s. His season was highlighted by him belting both of his homers and driving in four runs in a victory against Iona. He ranked second on the team in slugging percentage (.543) and doubles (three). Socci also played errorless ball and had 29 putouts in the field.

Alex Rauso was a senior captain, Vincent DeRubeis was a junior and Justin Nyarady a freshman on the University of Bridgeport roster.

Rauso was a 5-foot-9, 205-pound catcher who started in all 12 games. He had a .262 batting average (11-for-42) and he led the Purple Knights with three home runs and 14 RBIs. He was picked to the FCIAC All-West Team in 2015 and 2016.

DeRubeis, who made the 2017 FCIAC All-West Team, was a 6-foot-1, 205-pound junior infielder who saw no action. Nyarady was a 5-foot-10, 170-pound freshman pitcher who had three short appearances in relief.

Joe Nemchek was a 6-foot, 169-pound junior left-handed pitcher for Southern Connecticut State University. Nemchek started two of the three games he appeared in and had a 1-1 record in 15 innings pitched with a 4.20 ERA, 21 strikeouts and nine walks. Nemchek made the 2015 FCIAC All-West Team.

Chris Brown was a 6-foot-3, 213-pound freshman infielder for the University of Connecticut. He did not see any action in the 13 games played by the 8-5 Huskies.


Bobby Zmarzlak was a 6-foot-5, 205-pound freshman outfielder for Maryland. He started in seven of the nine games he played in as the designated hitter. After an early-season slump, Zmarzlak got four hits in 14 at-bats in his last four games to lift his season’s batting average up to .185 (5-for-27). He had 10 RBIs for the season, seven of them in one March 6 home game against Bryant when he had a grand slam home run and a three-run homer. Zmarzlak was selected to the All-FCIAC Baseball Team twice, in 2017 and 2019, and he also made the 2018 All-West Team.

John MacDonald was a 6-foot-4, 215-pound sophomore right-handed pitcher for Bryant University who made five appearances in long relief. He struck out eight batters in 8.1 innings and had no decisions. MacDonald was on the 2018 All-FCIAC Baseball Team.

John Spoto was a 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior middle infielder who started in nine games for Southern Connecticut State University and had three hits. Spoto was selected to the 2016 All-FCIAC Baseball Team the year after he made the 2015 FCIAC All-West Team.

TJ Wainwright, who made the 2019 All-FCIAC Baseball Team last year, was a 5-foot-9, 185-pound freshman infielder for Central Connecticut State University who did not appear in any games.

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